Beijing: Torrential rain in areas around China’s capital, Beijing, killed at least 20 people and left 27 missing, the government reported on Tuesday, as flooding destroyed roads, uprooted trees and knocked out power.
Thousands of people were evacuated to shelters in schools and other public buildings in suburban Beijing and in the nearby cities of Tianjin and Zhuozhou.
The severity of the flooding in the wake of typhoon Doksuri took the capital by surprise. Beijing usually has dry summers and had a stretch of record-breaking heat this year.
Other areas, especially in the south, have suffered unusually severe summer flooding that caused scores of deaths. Other parts of the country are struggling with drought.
Muddy water surging down streets washed away cars in the Mentougou district on Beijing’s western edge.
“The cars parked on the street floated and got washed away,” resident Liu Shuanbao said. “A couple of cars parked behind my apartment building disappeared in just one minute.”
Emergency workers used bulldozers to clear streets while residents waded through mud.
“Neither officials nor ordinary people expected the rain to be so heavy,” said Wu Changpo, another Mentougou resident. “There were a lot of landslides and flooded villages. I cried repeatedly seeing these reports.”
Eleven deaths were reported in Beijing and authorities were looking for 27 missing people, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Nine deaths were reported in Hebei province, which surrounds the capital. Doksuri is one of the strongest typhoons to hit China this year. It landed in the south-eastern province of Fujian on Friday.
Power to some 60,000 homes in Beijing’s Fangshan district was knocked out, Phoenix TV reported on its website.
In Zhuozhou, south-west of Beijing, some 125,000 people from high-risk areas were moved to shelters, Xinhua said.
President Xi Jinping issued an order for local governments to go “all out” to rescue those trapped and minimise loss of life and property damage.
The government of Tianjin, a port east of Beijing, said 35,000 people were evacuated from near the swollen Yongding River.
As much as 500 millimetres of rain have fallen in some places since Saturday, according to the Hebei province’s weather agency. Mentougou, a hilly and partly rural suburb to the west of Beijing, had a record of nearly 700 millimetres in 2½ days, more than double what the rest of the city averaged during the deluge. Some areas reported as much as 90 millimetres of rainfall an hour.
Some 13 rivers exceeded warning levels in the Haihe Basin, which includes Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang, Xinhua said, citing the Ministry of Water Resources.
Officials also announced plans to release some water from the Hai River to parts of Hebei and Tianjin to slow the rapidly increasing flow. The water release starts early on Tuesday to Hebei areas and is expected to reach Tianjin around August 9, according to local newspaper Tianjin Daily.
About 42,000 people were evacuated from areas of Shanxi province to Hebei’s west, it reported, citing emergency officials.
In early July, at least 15 people were killed by floods in the south-western region of Chongqing, and about 5590 people in the far north-western province of Liaoning had to be evacuated. In the central province of Hubei, rainstorms trapped residents in their vehicles and homes.
China’s deadliest and most destructive floods in recent history were in 1998, when 4150 people died, most of them along the Yangtze River.
In 2021, more than 300 people died in flooding in the central province of Henan. Record rainfall inundated the provincial capital of Zhengzhou on July 20 that year, turning streets into rushing rivers and flooding at least part of a subway line.
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